Tomorrow night the London 2012 Paralympics close. I will miss them. More than the Olympics.
The Paralympics and Paralympians are more accessible than the elitism of the 'boring' Games as The Last Leg's Adam Hills called the Olympics. Everyone has limitations in some way and watching people with obvious, or not-so-obvious, limitations push themselves and excel beyond expectation is memorable and inspirational. It makes going to work with that sore shoulder or bad head more achievable.
I, with other Canadians, became aware of the Paralympics when the amazing achievements of Chantal Petitclerc were broadcast on the CBC, though not until she had already been competing for years. (I just found out she is coaching for the Brits these Games.) Media coverage has been the key to people finding out about Paralympians and their dedication. Media coverage and these Games will advance the perception of the 'disabled' in a profound way.
Besides the athletes and coaches, I have also been very impressed with the great care taken in establishing so many categories of competition, going to great lengths to equalize playing fields, in what is often, science aside, a subjective measurement.
And nods of respect to the Brits, who have presented these Paralympics with great style and equanimity and never taken the honours due them for being the first home of the Paralympics. I would say, that even now, at the end of these Games, very few people realize the Paralympic movement began in England at a hospital for war veterans. A fine drama, The Best of Men, presented on TV between the Olympics and Paralympics, told the remarkable story of German refugee Dr. Ludwig Guttmann and his work with disabled war veterans at Stoke Mandeville hospital, but it was subtly downplayed for no apparent reason.
I will especially miss, and here you can hear an audible moan, the nightly hijinks of Adam Hills' The Last Leg, an end-of-night politically incorrect (and correct) roundup of the days events, which takes so many of those questions we all have about previously taboo subjects and, with laughter, dissolves the taboos. No wonder the Paralympians (American wheelchair rugby team in particular) break their curfews to watch it. So funny, and I am sad to see it come to an end.
Shine on, Paralympics!
Friday, September 7, 2012
|Olympic viewing in the Hayes, Cardiff city centre|
|Rail trip to Llanwrtyd Wells -- too late for the Games events though|
|Kite statue, Llanwrtyd Wells|
|Part of the Heart of Wales train loop|
|Alexandra Gardens in Cardiff on a lovely summer day in August|
|Paralympic insignia in front of Cardiff City Hall|
|Walk alongside Boulevard de Nantes|
|Nereid, daughter of Greek seagod, dancing with fish and birds|
|A balancing act|
|The Great Western pub in Cardiff City Centre|
|The British Fish Craft Championships at Cardiff's Harbour Festival -- last weekend in August|
|X-treme Sailing in Cardiff Bay during Harbour Festival|
Thursday, September 6, 2012
|The Bicentenary of the War of 1812 -- at Cardiff Castle|
On a sunny weekend at the end of August, 'The Fight for Canada!' came to Cardiff Castle, with re-enactors portraying the Battle of Fort Detroit. This hit home for me -- literally, as I am from the Windsor/Detroit area -- on an emotional level I wasn't expecting.
Growing up, the War of 1812 was always a hazy war -- a war that seemed to have been a series of skirmishes fought in apple orchards so long ago. Who won? who lost? It was always described as a kind of draw -- though the Americans originally attacked and it could have been said that they lost -- were we, as Canadians, too reluctant to lay claim to the fact that we did, in fact, defend our borders?
I was rather stunned to see this battle being depicted here in Cardiff, and then surprised again to find out that the 41st Regiment from Britain that was sent to Canada and fought at River Canard and Detroit is the predecessor of the Welsh Regiment. Though the regiment really had no specific ties to Wales until 1831, the surrendered colours of Fort Detroit hang today, a dark and faded eagle, in the Firing Line museum at Cardiff Castle.